Skip to main content

Full text of "General Daniel Morgan: Reconsidered Hero"

See other formats





By Richard L. Morgan, Ph.D, 

Burke County Historical Society 

Digitized by tine Internet Arciiive 

in 2012 witii funding from 

University of Nortii Carolina at Chapel Hil 

Reconsidered Hero 

Richard L. Morgan, Ph.D. 

Burke County Historical Society 
Morganton, North Carolina 

Copyright, 2001, by Richard L. Morgan, Ph.D. 

All rights reserved. No part of this pubUcation may be reproduced without the 

prior permission of Richard L. Morgan. 

Published by Burke County Historical Society, P. O. Box 151, Morganton, North 
Carolina 28680 



Acknowledgments iv 

Preface v 

Life of Daniel Morgan ix 

1. Mysterious Childhood, 1736-1753 1 

II. The Old Wagoner, 1753-1775 5 

III. Revolutionary Rifleman, 1775-1777 11 

IV. A Devil of a Whipping, 1777-1781 21 

V. Saratoga and Final Days, 1800-1802 31 

VI. Daniel Morgan: Reconsidered Hero 39 


I. Genealogy of Daniel Morgan 47 

II. Military Career of Daniel Morgan 48 

III. Further Reading 49 



I am indebted to the three existing biographies of General Morgan: James 
Graham, TJie Life of General Morgan of the Virginia Line oftJie Army of the United 
States (1856); North Callahan, Daniel Morgan: Ranger oftlie Revolution (1961); and 
Don Higginbotham, Daniel Morgan: Revolutionary Rifleman (1961) for their 
scholarly biographies of Morgan. I am also indebted to Park Ranger Scott 
Withrow for his monograph on the Battle ofCoiupens and Lawrence E. Babits for 
his excellent treatment of the Battle of Cowpens in A Devil of a Wltipping: The 
Battle of Cowpens {1998). 

1 would also like to acknowledge the hospitaUty of the Clarke County 
Historical Society, the Winchester/ Frederick Historical Society, and Carl and 
Eileen Stephanus, who graciously toured me through "Soldier's Rest," outside of 
Berryville, Virginia. 

My thanks to the Burke County Historical Society and its president, 
Dottie Ervin, for sponsoring this monograph and to Frances Manderson, 
Executive Director of Historic Burke Foundation for her editorial assistance in 
compiling this work. My hope is that those who read these pages will develop a 
genuine appreciation of this major hero of the War of Independence and 
acknowledge his importance for the town named for him. His story reminds us 
of St. Paul's words, "/ liave fought a good fight; I liave finislied tlie course; I have kept 
tlw faith." 

Richard L. Morgan 
Morganton, North CaroUna 



It has been 40 years since the last biography of General Daniel Morgan 
was written. Daniel Morgan still remains the "forgotten general," not well 
known outside of his home ground in the Shenandoah Valley, or around the 
South Carolina battlefields. In the recent Macmillan Dictionary of Military History, 
(Macmillan, 1998) he is not even mentioned— a glaring omission when one 
considers Morgan's brilliance at the Battle of Cowpens. 

The year 2002 marks the bicentennial of Morgan's death on July 6, 1802. 
The town of Morganton, North CaroHna, the only town in the United States 
named for Morgan, will celebrate the Ufe of this true American patriot. 

Not many people realize that the town of Morganton, North CaroUna, 
holds the distinction of being the only town in the United States named for 
Daniel Morgan, Revolutionary War hero and patriot.^ 

Not many citizens of Morganton know why the town was named for 
Daniel Morgan, or anything about his Life story. In 1784, Alexander Erwin, 
Thomas Blanton, and Charles McDowell were instiumental in naming this town 
"Morgansborough," in honor of the hero of Cowpens. No doubt the Burke 
militia, led by Major Joseph McDowell and Major Alexander Erwin, who fought 
with Morgan at Cowpens played a major role in the naming of the town. In 
1822, a supplemental act changed the name of the town to "Morganton."^ 

What do we know of this "forgotten general," a tiue patiiot of the 
American stiuggle for independence? An aura of mystery still surrounds 
Morgan's early Ufe. In Morgan's later years, the Reverend Wilham Hill, pastor 
of the Old Stone Presbyterian Church of Winchester, Virginia, became Morgan's 
pastor and confidant. He intended to write a biography, based on stories 
Morgan told him, but he never completed the task. All that remains is his 

'There are nine U. S. counties named for General Morgan in Alabama, Georgia, 
Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and West Virginia. Morgantown, 
W. Va., was named for ZaquiU Morgan, and Morgantown, Pa. was named for Jacob 

^John T. Wheeler, in his Historical Sketch of North Carolina (1851) states that the 
capital of Burke County is called in compUment of Daniel Morgan, born in Pennsylvania. 

handwritten outline, housed in the library of Union Theological Seminary 
(Presbyterian) in Richmond, Virginia. Even a cursory look at Hill's outline 
leaves one with the impression that we would know more if the biography had 
ever been written. 


1 How my acquaintance with Genl Morgan commenced, & 
to what extent it was carried afterwards. 

2 The family & early days of Genl M~ 

3 When he came to Va & in what circumstances— 

4 His first employment, & the kind of Life he led— 

5 His person & figure—temperament, & disposition— 

6 His first employment in the British army, & treatment. 

7 His entering Braddock army in some subordinate office 

8 Being sent on some scouting party-fell in an ambuscade 
& dreadfully wounded but narrowly escaped— 

9 After Fort Duchesne was taken & peace made Genl M— 
returned to his old neighborhood, & engaged in some 
employment or other for a livelihood, was industrious 
and saving, but fond at times of frohck & sports, but was 
still economical-& saving— 

10 His feats at Battletown— His loose habits— 

11 With his saving he bought a small tract of land & 
turned it to good acct- 

11 [sic] He now corrected some of his loose habits, improved 
his mind & defective education & moved in a better circle 

12 [sic[ He married which had a happy effect upon his after 
life— His wife a plain industrious sensible & pious woman— 

The earUest biography of Morgan was written in 1856 by the Rev. James 
Graham, who married Morgan's great-granddaughter. 


^-<^ (^ <f^:^^^kf^^ 

Outline of the life of General Daniel Morgan by the Reverend William Hill 
in the archives of Union Theological Seminary, Richmond, Va. 



In every person's life there are crucial points that, from that moment 
onward, alter the course of his or her Life. Looking back, we reaUze these are 
turning points, that how we responded to these moments of crisis defined who 
we are. These transitions take us from endings, through emptiness and 
darkness, to fresh life and new beginnings. Never was this truer than in the life 
of Daniel Morgan. From his flight to Virginia at the age of 17 to his final days at 
Winchester, Virginia, Daniel Morgan experienced many transitions. 



1736 Born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania (possibly Hunterdon County, New 

1753 Left home, traveled the Old Wagon Road to Charlestown, Virginia 

1754 Became a wagoner, delivering suppUes in the Valley of Virginia. 
Washington and Boone were also involved. 

1755 Served as a wagoner at Braddock's defeat at Fort Duquesne. 

1757 Joined the British Army with an ensign's commission. 

1758 Brawler, gambler, Indian fighter (Battletown, Virginia). 

1759 Moved to Winchester, Virginia, and lived with Abigail Curry. 
1763 Served as lieutenant in Pontiac's Conspiracy. 

1763 -73 Lived with Abigail Curry at "Soldier's Rest " near present town of 
Berryville, Virginia. Two daughters, Nemcy and Betsy, born during 
this period. 

1773 Married Abigail Curry 

1775 Joined the Continental Army with a commission as Captain of the 

Virginia Riflemen. Marched his men 600 miles to Massachusetts. Left 
Fort Western for the Canadian Expedition, was present at the Battle of 
Quebec on December 31. Imprisoned and released on parole in 1776. 

1777 Morgan's riflemen played major role in Battle of Saratoga. 

1780 Named brigadier general and returned to southern campaign. 

1781 Won major victory over Tarleton at Cowpens. 

1781 Returned to his home at "Saratoga" near Boyce, Virginia. 

1782 Managed Burwell-Morgan Mill in Milltown, Virginia. 
1794 Repelled the Whiskey Rebellion in Pennsylvania. 
1797-99 Served in U. S. Congress 

1800 Health failed; moved to home on Amherst Street in Winchester, Virginia 

1800 Friendship with the Reverend William Hill, pastor of Old Stone 
Presbyterian Church, Winchester. 

1801 Baptized. 

1802 Died July 6*. (WiUiam Hill preached funeral oration; buried in 
cemetery of Old Stone Church; remains moved to Mount Hebron 
Cemetery, Winchester, in 1868.) 





Morgan was reluctant to talk about 
his past; indeed, he told few if any 
of his friends the identity of his 
parents, the place of his birth, and 
the location of his home before 
reaching Frederick County. 

Don Higginbotham 

In the spring of 1753, a tall, strong, young man about 17 years old strode 
into Charlestown, Virginia. He was poor and could not read or write. He had 
little but the clothes on his back and a determination to make something out of 
his life. He revealed little about his past, or the family from which he came. But 
Daniel Morgan's mysterious past and subsequent rise to fame in the 
Revolutionary War strike an almost mythical note. He was the true American 
individual who came from nowhere and established himself as an authentic 

Morgan was born in the winter of 1736. During the exchange of 
prisoners in 1776, it is reported that Morgan told the British officers in charge of 
handling his exchange that he was 40 years old. This marked his birthday in the 
year 1736. Apparently, his parents were James and Eleanor Morgan, Welsh 
Quaker immigrants who had come to America in 1720 and settled in Bucks 
County, Pennsylvania. His father was an iron master, and soon after Daniel was 
born, the family moved across the Delaware River to Hunterdon County, New 
Jersey."* Morgan never spoke of his parents or his family. Apparently, his 
mother died when he was a small boy, and his father remarried. At the age of 
17, Daniel had a severe quarrel with his father and ran away from home. He fled 
southward down the Great Wagon Road, which began in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, 
turned southward to Frederick, Maryland, ran through Winchester, Virginia, 

' Some historians speculate that Daniel Morgan was the grandson of Edward 
Morgan of Wales, whose sister was Sarah Morgan, mother of Daniel Boone, thus making 
Daniel Boone and Daniel Morgan cousins. Sarah Morgan had a brother named Daniel 
who was present at her marriage. This Daniel Morgan was married to Elizabeth Roberts 
under the care of the Gjnvnedd Friends Meeting on September 2, 1718. Susan K. 
Morikawa, Archivist of the Friends Historical Library at Swarthmore, Pa., wrote, "There 
never has been any documentation to support the connection that would make Daniel 
Boone and Daniel Morgan first cousins, and it seems unlikely." (Letter to the author, 
August 20, 1999). Boone and Morgan may have met when they were in Braddock's 
command in the French and Indian War. Others claim that Daniel Morgan was the son of 
Captain Richard Morgan of Frederick County, Virginia. However, the best guess is that 
James and Eleanor Morgan were his parents. Both Virginia and Pennsylvania claim 
Morgan as a native son. See Joseph F. Folsom, "General Daniel Morgan's Birthplace and 
Life," New Jersey Historical Society, Proceedings, New Ser. 14 (1929), pp. 277-91. 

and ended at the Yadkin River in North CaroUna. The gangling six-foot, 200- 
pottnd young man hired himself out as a farm worker, and in less than a year 
had earned enough trust from his employer to be put in charge of Burwell's 
sawmQl. By the age of 19, he set himself up as an independent wagoner, and 
hauled produce from the backwoods over the mountains. A restless, high- 
spirited young man, Morgan enjoyed the freedom of wagoning, and he also 
Hked the company of John Ashby, a skilled horseman, marksman, pugilist, and 
rum-drinker. Despite good times with Ashby, Morgan saved most of his salary, 
so that within a year he was able to purchase a team and enter the hauling 
business for himself. In fact, Morgan's favorite title for himself was "The Old 



"Did not Quebec, Saratoga and 
the Cowpens make it sufficiently 
manifest that Daniel Morgan had 
something in his nature above 
rattling dice on a tavern table, or 
bullying the young men of a country 

"He was never known to sacrifice 
truth for conventionality." 

James Graham 

In his youthful days Morgan was a brawler and heavy drinker. His 
favorite hangout was a tavern near Battletown, Virginia, (the present Berryville, 
Virginia) a place that must have gotten its name from the numerous brawls that 
occurred there. Morgan was a hell-raiser and tavern brawler who loved a fist 
fight. He joked, clowned, loved rum, enjoyed cards, wore Indian attire, and had 
a common-law wife. 

However, the outbreak of the French and Indian War in 1754 cut short his 
career as an independent wagoner. That year, French troops pressing down 
from Canada erected Fort Duquesne at the fork of the Ohio, then defeated 
George Washington's Virginia militiamen who had hoped to drive them away. 
Early in 1755, Major Edward Braddock arrived in Virginia with two regiments of 
regulars to combat the French. Daniel Morgan learned of an appeal for 
wagoners to transport provisions to Braddock's advance base at Fort 
Cumberland, Maryland, and was engaged by Braddock to accompany his army. 

Either before or after Braddock's march to Fort Duquesne, a British 
officer or enlisted man so angered Morgan that he knocked the Briton down, and 
a drum-beat court martial sentenced Morgan to receive 500 lashes. Despite the 
fact that other men had died enduring such an ordeal, Morgan was too tough to 
die. Counting with the drummer, Morgan heard him miscount, but "did not 
think it worthwhile to tell him of his mistake, and so let it go." Morgan later 
would not have taken anything for the whipping. During that long January 
night before the battle at Cowpens, Morgan went from camp to camp, showing 
the patriots his scars, and telling them that he owed King George one! Later the 
young officer apologized to Morgan, and Morgan accepted his apology. Morgan 
told this story in his later years to the Reverend WiUiam Hill, who wrote: 

Upon one occasion while assisting in changing 
his linen, I discovered his back to be covered with 
scars and ridges from his shoulders to his waist. 
'General,' said 1, 'What had been the matter with 
your back?' 'Ah,' repUed he, 'that is the doings 
of old King George. While 1 was in his service, 
upon a certain occasion, he promised to give me 
500 lashes. But he failed in his promise and gave 
me but 499; so he has been owing me one lash 

ever since.' While the drummer was laying them 
on my back I heard him miscount one. 1 was 
counting after him all the time. I did not think it 
worth while to teU him of his mistake, and let it 
go so. 

Braddock was ambushed by a French and Indian force, and met a humiliating 
defeat. Morgan witnessed this fiasco, and finally, on July 11, the mortally 
wounded Braddock met his end. 

In April 1756, Morgan led a militia contingent from Fort Ashby to Fort 
Edwards, 20 miles north of Winchester. Suddenly seven Indians sprang from 
ambush and opened fire, killing Morgan's companion. A musket ball tore into 
Morgan's neck and passed out through his cheek, dislodging several teeth. 
Somehow Morgan survived, but the wound left a permanent scar on his face."* 

In 1763, Morgan claimed a sweetheart. Miss Abigail Curry, the daughter 
of a relatively prosperous Frederick County farmer. She became his "common- 
law wife," and they set up housekeeping. 

In the 1760's two daughters, Nancy and Betsy, were bom to this union. 
Abigail was "plain, sensible, and pious," and had a genuine interest in religion 
which influenced Morgan. In 1800, Abigail Morgan became one of 40 charter 
members of the Old Stone Presbyterian church in Winchester, the church which 
Morgan joined a year later. Morgan was later buried in the church's cemetery on 
July 6, 1802. 

Abigail taught Morgan to read and write, and persuaded him to have 
nothing more to do with his rowdy friends. Her love and understanding drew 
hun away from his carousing comrades. On March 30, 1773, due to the 
persuasion of the Anglican vicar, Charles Thurston, Morgan and Abigail Curry 
were married. 

According to Don Higginbotham, somewhere between 1769 and 1772, 

* James Graham, Life of General Morgan of the Virginia Army of the United States, 
pp. 33-34. 

"Soldier's Rest," near Berryville, Va., where Daniel Morgan and his wife, 
Abigail, lived. 


Morgan purchased a 255-acre tract from Abigail's uncle, Sam Blackburn.^ 
Situated three miles north of Battletown and eleven miles east of Winchester, it 
was near the land Morgan had previously rented and not far from the home of 
Abigail's father, Daniel Curry. Morgan named that home "Soldier's Rest." 
Historians of Clarke County today raise serious questions about whether Daniel 
Morgan ever really lived there. ^ 

In 1771, Morgan, who had become a prosperous farmer, was appointed 
as a militia captain. But the drums of war from afar would soon disrupt his 
peaceful life and propel him into battles which would later make him one of the 
great patriots of the American Revolution. 

^ Don Higginbotham, Daniel Morgan: Revolutionary Rifleman, p.l3; Higginbotham 
shows how the transaction caused many difficulties for Morgan which raised doubts 
whether Morgan ever lived at "Soldier's Rest." Some believe he continued to live on 
rented land nearby. 

^ According to Mary Morris, archivist at the Clarke County Historical Society, 
land records indicate that Daruel Morgan purchased "Soldier's Rest" and sold it in two 
months, apparently as surety for a debt. Morgan may well have lived at this location, 
but as a renter, not an owner (telephone conversation with the author, July 9, 2001). 

Daniel Morgan in Ranger Unifortn, Courtesy of New York Public Library, New 
York, N.Y. 



1775 - 1777 

"The hero is known for having done 
something; the celebrity is known for 
being known." 

Robert Perm Warren 

On April 19, 1775, the "shot heard 'round the world," fired at Lexington, 
Massachusetts, became yet another turning point in the life of Daniel Morgan. 
Seven hundred British routed 70 militiamen on the town green. The British then 
marched on to Concord, where 200 minutemen took position on the far side of 
the Old North Bridge. Several men on both sides were killed or wounded; the 
British troops fell back and began a retreat to Boston. 

News of the event immediately began spreading, reaching Charleston, 
South Carolina, by May 10, 1775. On this same date, Ethan Allen and his Green 
Mountain Boys from Vermont, along with Benedict Arnold, captured Fort 
Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain. 

In June of 1775, the Continental Congress approved the formation of a 
Continental Army, and George Washington was officially approved to become 
Commander-in-Chief. A call went out to the colorues, and on June 14, Congress 
voted to raise ten companies of "expert riflemen," six from Pennsylvania, two 
from Maryland, and two from Virginia. 

When the lawmakers called on Frederick County to provide one Virginia 
company, the patiiot committee unanimously elected Daniel Morgan captain of 
the unit. Although Morgan disliked leaving his family and farm, he nevertheless 
was honored by his appointment and named his regiment "Morgan's Raiders." 

Morgan then rode throughout the county recruiting his riflemen, and he 
finally accepted 96 recruits. These riflemen, mainly in their early twenties, were 
dressed in long hunting shirts, leggings, and moccasins. Morgan himself wore 
Indian clothing and carried a new rifle. Morgan marched these backwoodsmen 
over 600 miles from Winchester to Cambridge, Massachusetts. This bee-line 
march to Boston ended with a review by George Washington. According to 
some accounts, when Washington first saw Morgan and his men, he stopped 
before their line and dismounted from his horse. He is said to have gone along 
the line, shaking hands with every man, his eyes filled with tears.'' For six weeks 
Morgan's riflemen remained inactive at Cambridge. But things would soon 

^ Daniel Callahan, Daniel Morgan, Ranger of the Revolution, pp. 49-50. 



On September 25, 1775, Morgan and his riflemen set off on a secret 
expedition into the howling Canadian wildemess. Morgan, at the age of 39, and 
his rangers marched 350 rrdles in 60 days across the rugged Maine terrain. 
Washington's plan was to neutralize British power in Canada, arid make it a 
fourteenth colony. 

Washington's plan involved a two-pronged attack led by General 
Richard Montgomery and Colonel Benedict Arnold. Higginbotham states, 
"Perhaps the most remarkable fact about the Canadian venture was that 
Arnold's men ever reached Quebec. The credit for their arrival... belongs largely 
to Arnold, and to a less extent, to his subordinate, Morgan."^ Two months after 
it began, the expedition had thinned down from 1,050 able-bodied soldiers to 

On November 10, Morgan's men camped on the St. Lawrence River, 
within view of Quebec. On a snowy January first, Arnold and Morgan began 
their assault on Quebec. British Major General Sir Guy Carleton repelled the 
invaders; Montgoniery was kUled and Arnold barely escaped with a few men. 

It was Morgan who scaled the wall of the city and fell on a cannon, which 
no doubt saved him from British bayonets. The British had regrouped and 
surrounded Morgan's column in the narrow stieet, and defeat was imminent. 
James Graham described that dramatic moment in Quebec on that snowy day in 
the first biography of Daniel Morgan: 

Such was Morgan's vexation upon realizing the 
hopelessness of his situation that, he wept Uke a child. 
On being summoned by some of his enemy's soldiery 
to dehver up his sword, he peremptorily refused a 
comphance, but placing his back against a wall, with 
the weapon in his hand, he dared any one of their 
number to come and take it... At length a man near 
at hand, whom he took by his dress to be a clergyman. 

Higginbotham, Morgan, p. 27. 


he asked him if he was not a priest. Being answered 
in the affirmative, Morgan deUvered his sword to 
the clergyman observing, 'Then I give my sword 
to you; but a scoundrel of these cowards shall not 
take it out of my hands.'' 

Morgan was imprisoned in a comfortable seminary in January 1776. 
Three months later, a plot to escape among the prisoners was discovered by the 
British. Then the Americans were clapped in irons and thrown into the old 
Dauphin jail for four months. 

One of General Carleton's subordinates, possibly McKenzie or Carleton's 
brother. Major Carleton, tried to convince Morgan that he could gain nothing 
from his struggle with the mother country, and suggested he could be a colonel 
in the British army. As Morgan told the story to William Hill in his later years, 
he told the officer that his services were not for sale. He was no "rascal."^" 

On August 7, Carleton capitulated to Morgan's demand that he be 
released, and on August 11, he set sail for home. When the ship landed at 
Elizabethtown Point, New Jersey, Morgan lay prone on the earth, sobbing aloud, 
"Oh, my country." Morgan reported to Washington's headquarters and later 
was promoted to the rank of colonel. He returned to his home, "Soldier's Rest," 
where he found his wife and children in good health. In late 1776, a courier 
arrived in Frederick County and delivered Morgan's commission as Colonel of 
the 11* Virginia Regiment. Having raised a force of 180 men, Morgan reached 
Washington's camp at Morristown, New Jersey, around the beginning of April 


The classic painting by John Trumbull of the Battle of Saratoga, October 
1777, depicts Colonel Daniel Morgan standing next to General Horatio Gates as 
Johnny Burgoyne, the British General, surrenders his sword. Benedict Arnold 

' Graham, op cit., p. 103. (Based on notes of Rev. William Hill.) 
" Ibid., pp. 11-12. 


The Surrender of General Burgoyne, 1 7 October 1 777, by John Trumbull. 
Courtesy of U. S. Capitol Historical Society, Washington. (Colonel Daniel 
Morgan of the Virginia Riflemen stands at the left hand of General Horatio 
Gates as Lieutenant General John Burgoyne surrenders at Saratoga. 


was nowhere to be fotmd, as he lay in his tent recovering from his w^ounds. 
Morgan never received credit for his role in this strategic American victory that 
brought France into the war on the side of the colonists. 

Washington, well aware of Morgan's abilities, used his rifle corps 
throughout the winter and spring as light infantry to harry the British foragers 
and rear guard. By late summer, the Americans faced a major threat in New 
York as British General John Burgoyne marched from Canada with the intention 
of seizing the Husdon River, thus dividing New England from the rest of the 

General Horatio Gates was dispatched to organize and lead the American 
resistance, and Colonel Morgan with his rifle corps accompanied him by special 
request. In October 1777, the two armies clashed near Saratoga, New York, in a 
two-day battle which many historians claim was the turning point of the 
Revolution. On September 19, Gates had won the Battle of Freeman's Farm 
(First Saratoga) at a heavy price. On October 7, the American forces defeated the 
British at Bemis Heights (Second Battle of Saratoga). Burgoyne surrendered on 
October 17. It is worth noting that Gates did not engage in the battle, but left the 
fighting to Daniel Morgan and Benedict Arnold. Morgan led a flanking 
movement to the British right that, with Arnold's coordinating movement on the 
left, wrapped up the entire army and forced Burgoyne to surrender. Morgan's 
500 rangers were deadly snipers, wielding Kentucky long rifles with a range of 
200 yards, twice that of muskets. 

One wonders why Morgan is never mentioned in Gates' dispatches to 
Congress and why he never received the credit he so richly deserved. Morgan's 
name is not even mentioned in the official account of the surrender. James 
Graham relates the reason, no doubt garnered from Hill's memories of Morgan's 
life. Apparently Gates told Morgan that the main army was extremely 
dissatisfied with the conduct of the war by General Washington, and that severed 
of Gates' officers threatened to resign unless a change took place. According to 
Hill, Morgan replied, "1 have one favor to ask of you, sir, which is, never to 
mention that detestable subject to me again; for under no other man than 
Washington, as commander-in-chief, would I ever serve."" 

" Ibid., p. 173. (Based on Hill's memoirs.) 


Gates himself entertained strong hopes of replacing Washington, and he 
solicited Morgan's support. Daniel Morgan was loyal to Washington, and his 
refusal to join in this conspiracy caused him to faU out of favor with Gates. 
Gates snubbed Morgan by not inviting him to a dinner he gave for the principal 
officers of the British army. This initiated a long period of alienation between 
Gates and Morgan which did not end until the spring of 1781. 


At the request of Washington, Morgan marched southward from 
Saratoga. One account claims that Morgan stopped in northern New Jersey to 
see "his brother, whom he had not seen for many years, and who, he learned, 
was in extreme indigence." According to this account, Morgan had not seen his 
brother for 20 years, and during the visit had to sleep on the bare floor, "his 
brother having but one bed in his house."^^ 

Morgan hastened to the headquarters of Washington at Whitmarsh, 
Pennsylvania, arriving there on November 18, 1777. In late December, 
Washington moved his army to Valley Forge, where they endured the bitter 
winter of 1778. Morgan and his corps were placed on the west side of the 
Schuylkill River and were often engaged in Indian-style fighting around 

Army politics began to play a major role in yet another transition in the 
life of Daniel Morgan. Morgan felt his accomplishments had earned him a 
promotion and a larger command; a special brigade of light infantry was then 
forming, and he wanted it. Higginbotham says that two factors mitigated 
against him: (1) The new body was of adequate strength for a brigadier general, 
and (2) Second Brigadier General Anthony Wayne had been replaced as 
commander of the Pennsylvania line and threatened to resign if not given this 
new command." Jamie B. Cheaney adds that "The problem: he was a 
Virginian, and Virginia was thought by Congress to have fielded enough 
generals. Jealousy and rivalry among the colonies prompted Congress to offer 

'^ Biographical sketch, "The Glory of America," quoted in Graham, pp. 18-19. 
" Higginbotham, op. cit., pp. 95-97 


the command to Anthony Wayne, a Pennsylvanian." ^* 

When Morgan learned of Wayne's elevation to the post he coveted, he 
informed Washington of his decision to give up the service. Washington gave 
Morgan a pass to Philadelphia along w^ith a letter to the President of Congress. 

Sir: Colonel Morgan of the Virginia troops, who 
waits on Congress with his resignation, will have 
the honor of delivering you this. 1 cannot in 
justice avoid mentioning him as a very valuable 
officer who has rendered a series of important 
services and distinguished himself upon several 

On July 18, 1779, Morgan wrote a letter of resignation to the politicians. 
He wrote, "I cannot therefore but feel deeply affected by injury done my 
reputation.. .1 must conclude from what has happened that my coimtry has no 
more occasion for me, 1 therefore beg leave to retire. "^^ 

The "Hero of Saratoga," deeply offended, slung his rifle over his 
shoulder and returned home to Winchester on indefinite furlough. North 
Callahan entitled the chapter covering this period in his biography of Morgan, 
"Achilles Sulks in His Tent," a bit harshly. For Morgan had endured racking 
pain and tortures of rheumatism. The rigors of the Quebec campaign had caught 
up with him, and he needed the rest and herbal remedies. And Morgan would 
never be free from his back problems. 

It is extiemely interesting that at this juncture of his life, Morgan began to 
build a new home, a few miles east of Boyce, Virginia. He had purchased an 
estate from Mr. Blackburn, and after he returned home in 1781, he began 

'" Jamie Cheaney, Daniel Morgan, p. 3. 

^^ Washington to the President of Congress, June 30, 1779, Fitzpatrick, ed., 
Writings of Washington, XV, p. 342. 

'* Morgan to the President of Congress, July 18, 1779. Papers of the Contineiital 
Congress, No. 78, XV, p. 473. 


construction on a house, using Hessian prisoners taken in the Battle of Saratoga 
and confined in Winchester. It seems naming the home "Saratoga" was a silent 
protest against the injustices of General Gates, who had discoxinted his service in 
the battie. Eleven miles from Winchester, this large two-story house stands 
today atop a rocky elevation. It is obscured by trees as one approaches the old 
narrow road that Morgan himself must have buUt. For 15 months, Morgan 
remained in Frederick County as a private citizen. But events that turned 
southward would cause yet another tiansition for the "old waggoner." 






"Great generals are scarce; there 
are few Morgans." 

Nathanael Greene (after Cowpens) 

As the year 1780 drew to a close, the rebellious colonies which had dared 
challenge the mighty British Empire were hanging on the ropes. Lord 
Cornwallis had won major victories at Charleston and Camden, controlled South 
Carolina, and stood poised to strike at Virginia; only North Carolina stood in his 

Morgan kept in touch through correspondence with his many friends, 
including Horatio Gates, with whom he was not reconciled. When Gates was 
appointed to command the army of the South, he urged Morgan to join him as 
combat commander. Due to his wretched health, Morgan was in no position to 
respond at first. But the "old" colonel, now 48 years old, felt the call of his 
country when he heard the disastrous news of Gates' defeat at Camden. Morgan 
set out for Hillsborough, North Carolina, and arrived there in late September. 

On October 7, 1780, a large body of patriots from North Carolina, 
Virginia, and east Tennessee caught up with 1,100 loyalists under British Major 
Patrick Ferguson at Kings Mountain, North Carolina. The British were 
demolished, and Major Ferguson killed. 

By now the Continental Congress had seen the error of its ways and 
promoted Morgan to brigadier general. When he arrived at Charlotte on 
December 3, 1780, there was little to command. Of the total number present, 
only a little over half were ready for duty. Foraging and raiding occupied their 
time until the end of the year, when a change of cormnand gave hope for the 

General George Washington sent the very capable Nathanael Greene to 
take command of the southern army. Greene, just two weeks after taking 
command, split his army, sending General Daniel Morgan southwest to the 
Catawba River to cut supply lines and hamper British operations in the back 
country, and to "spirit up the people." Greene called Morgan's force "The 
Flying Army."^^ 

Lord Cornwallis countered Greene's move by sending Colonel Banastre 
Tarleton to block Morgan's actions. Tarleton was only 26, but he was feared and 
hated, especially for his victory at the Waxhaws, where he massacred remnants 

'^ "I give this army the name of a Flying Army; and whilst its numbers are so 
small, and the enemy so much superior, it must be literally so; for they can make no 
opposition of consequence." Greene to Lafayette, 29 December, 1780. 


Daniel Morgan, drawn by J. Herring from Col. Trumbull's sketch. Engraving 
found by Richard Morgan in Chestnut Hill, Pa., 1999. 


of the Continental Army trying to escape. His offering of no quarter led to the 
derisive term "Tarleton's Quarter." 

The stage was set for one of the most strategic battles of the war. On 
January 12, 1781, Tarleton located Morgan's army on the Pacolet River and 
began an aggressive pursuit in the back country of South CaroUna. Morgan 
retreated to Thicketty Creek and then decided to make a stand at the Cowpens, a 
well-known crossroads and frontier pasturing grovmd. Some of the 
Overmountain Men, including Joseph McDowell and Alexander Erwin of Burke 
County, had camped at Cowpens on their journey to the Battle of Kings 

On the eve of the battle, Morgan moved among the campfires, offering 
encouragement, talking of the battle plan, and lashing out at "Bloody Ben" 
Tarleton and the British. By the time he was through, one soldier remarked that 
"the army was in good spirits and very willing to fight." Morgan hardly slept a 
wink all night. 

The odds seemed insurmountable. Tarleton commanded 1,100 well- 
trained regulars, while Morgan had many raw recruits, who were known to turn 
tail and run in the face of well-trained British bayonets. But Daniel Morgan 
defied not only the odds, but all the tactical rules of battle. He took his stand on 
an open field with his flanks exposed, and the Broad River at his back. He knew 
the militia were terrified of British bayonets, so he placed them in a situation 
where they had to fight. Morgan said, "WTien men are forced to fight, they will 
sell their lives dearly." Morgan formed his tioops in three Lines, stiaddling the 
dirt road that curved through the Cowpens. The unpredictable militia were 
placed in the front line, promised they could withdraw after they had fired two 
volleys with their rifles at "killing distance." He backed them up with the more 
seasoned Continentals, and farthest to the rear, placed the cavalry, led by 
William Washington. 

At the outset of the battle, sharpshooters picked off numbers of Tarleton's 
dragoons, and then retreated. Lawrence E. Babits claims that the role of the 
North Carolina militia, under the command of Colonel Joseph McDowell of 
Quaker Meadows has often been overlooked. "On the British left," Babits wrote, 
"the initial impact feU on McDowell's flanking skirmishers in a now-forgotten 



The Battle of Cowpens began at 7 am. Shown are both British Regulars and 
Patriots, including Burke County militia. 


encounter that was critical to the American success. "^^ The "Lobsterbacks" 
surged forward, but were met by the withering fire of Morgan's second Une, 
commanded by Andrew Pickets. The third line, made up of John Eager 
Howard's Continentals, continued the onslaught. The teUing moment came 
when William Washington's patriot cavalry thundered on the field of battle, 
seemingly out of nowhere. Morgan, riding in front, rallied the militia, crying 
out, "Form, form, my brave fellows. Morgan was never beaten."^' 

A strange thing then happened. Morgan ordered the retreating units to 
face about and fire in unison. The firing took a heavy toU on the British, who at 
that time had sensed victory and had broken ranks in a wild charge. The fierce 
patiiot bayonet charge in return broke the British charge. The re-formed militia 
and cavalry re-entered the battle, and the British infantiy began surrendering en 

The battle was over. In less than an hour, the patiiots had won a 
staggering victory. British losses were 110 dead, 200 wounded, and 500 
captured. Morgan lost only 12 killed and 60 wounded. In Morgan's own words, 
he gave Tarleton and the British a "devil of a whipping." Tarleton escaped with 
only 50 tioopers and a shattered reputation. 

Word of the stunning victory "flew from south to north like a shock of 
electricity, revived our languish hopes, and stiung our sinews for the contest," 
recalled Reverend Hill. One British historian commented that "Tarleton lost the 
battle that lost the campaign that lost the war that lost the American colonies." 
Morgan's victory at the Cowpens cannot be minimized for its impact on the final 
American victory. In chasing Morgan, CornwaUis depleted his suppUes and was 
forced to give up hope of conquering North Carolina. No doubt Cowpens was a 
significant moment that led to the eventual defeat of the British at Yorktown on 
October 19, 1781, while the British band played "The World Turned Upside 

Morgan knew CornwaUis would pursue him, so after burying his dead 
(the legend says in wolf pits), he headed north at noon of that same day and 

^* Lawrence E. Babits, A Devil of a Whipping, p. 106. 

" James B. Collins, Autobiography of a Revolutionaty War Soldier, John Roberts (ed.), 
Clinton, La., 1859, p. 59. 


Major Joseph McDowell served 
with the Burke Militia at Cowpens 

Medal awarded to General Daniel Morgan after the Battle of Cowpens, finally 
presented in 1790 by Thomas Jefferson. 


proceeded to Gilbert Town (the present Rutherfordton) and then pressed swiftly 
northeast toward the Catawba River. Daniel Barefoot beUeves that Morgan's 
flight from CornwalUs took him to present-day Morganton in Burke County, and 
then to Sherrills Ford.^° He arrived at Sherrills Ford with a large portion of his 
army in late January. Barefoot adds, "Morgan's entourage-850 American 
soldiers, 500 British prisoners, 800 horses, 40 wagons, and two captured 
wagons-stretched along area roads for more than two miles. It was a spectacle 
few residents ever forgot."^^ Soon Morgan and Greene reunited, and shortly 
thereafter, Morgan had to retire from duty. His rheumatism had flared up again, 
and to that was added the misery of hemorrhoids. After a week on the road, he 
could ride his horse no longer and had to make the long journey back to 
"Saratoga" by carriage. 

Scott Withrow, Park Ranger at Cowpens National Battlefield, says that 
"Morgan's unorthodox but tactical masterpiece had indeed 'spirited up' the 
people, not only those of the back country Carolinas, but those in all the 


Although Daniel Morgan had won a major victory at Cowpens, he knew 
the only way to preserve that victory was to escape CornwaUis. So Morgan 
decided to retreat towards the fords of the Catawba River in North Carolina, 
where he expected militia reinforcements under General Davidson and where he 
hoped to hear from Nathanael Greene. Morgan's route holds much interest for 
the town of Morganton, later named for the General. Did Morgan ever reach the 
place which is now Morganton in Burke County? Daniel Barefoot thinks he did. 
He writes, "General Daniel Morgan began a retreat to escape the wrath of 

^^ Daniel W. Barefoot, Touring North Carolina's Revolutionary War Sites, Winston- 
Salem, N.C.: John F. Blair, 1998, p. 245. 

"■' Ibid., p. 248. 

^ Scott Withrow, The Battle of Cowpens, unpublished manuscript, p. 4. 


Comwallis's full army. Morgan's flight took him to Morganton [sic]...^ 
However, reconstruction of that escape raises questions as to whether Morgan 
ever came through the present town of Morganton.^* 

On January 17, 1781, Morgan left the Cowpens at noon , and crossed the 
north side of the Broad River at Cherokee Ford. He sent Colonel Pickens' militia 
with the British prisoners into the higher country. On January 18, Morgan 
marched into Gilbert Tow^n (near the present tow^n of Rutherfordton). Marching 
100 miles in five days, Morgan and his troops reached Sherrills Ford on January 
23, where they camped and waited for Greene's army. 

Greene arrived at Morgan's camp at Sherrills Ford on January 30, and on 
January 31, Greene, Morgan, William Davidson, and WUliam Washington met 
on the left bank of the Catawba River at Beattie's Ford. (Across the Catawba on 
the right bank were CornwaUis and his forces.) 

Although Morgan wanted to engage CornwalUs there, Greene decided 
that General Davidson would encoimter the British at Cowans Ford, while 
Greene and Morgan fled to SaUsbury. On February 1, at the Battle of Cowans 
Ford, Davidson was killed and British won the day, but the bravery of Davidson 
and his 800 militia against CornwaUis' s 2,500 troops gave Morgan and Greene 
time to escape the British army. Davidson's ultimate sacrifice gave the patiiot 
army the critical head start it needed to reach the Yadkin River, and get across 
the river in boats before the first elements of CornwaUis's army, commanded by 
Charles O'Hara, arrived there on the night of February 2. 

Morgan arrived in Salisbury on February 2, and knew he "had one more 
river to cross," the Yadkin River. They crossed the Yadkin seven miles from 
Salisbury at Trading Ford, and began the 47-mile tiek to Guilford Court House, 
where they arrived on February 3. 

Morgan was in great pain and wrote to General Greene that he must 
resign and return home. 

I am not unacquainted with the hurt my retiring 

^ Barefoot, op. at., p. 245. 

^* Based on research by Buchanan, The Road to Guilford Court House, and Morrill, 
Southern Campaigns of the American Revolution. 


will be to the service, as the people have much 
confidence in me; but the love 1 have for my 
country, and the willingness I have always showed 
to serve it, will convince you that nothing would 
be wanting on my side were 1 able to serve. So 
that I must beg leave of absence, till 1 find myself 
able to take the field again.^^ 

On February 10, Morgan left for Fredericksburg in a carriage with two 
slaves, "Nat" and "Toby," captured at the Battle of Cowpens, both of whom 
were to serve him the rest of his life. Behind him was four months' service with 
the Southern army in the Carolinas, and that outstanding patriot victory at 

Congress voted to create a medal for Morgan, and Thomas Jefferson lent 
his support. The inscription was to read: 

That the thanks of the United States in Congress 
assembled, be given to Brigadier General Morgan, 
and the officers and men under his command, for 
their fortitude and good conduct, displayed in the 
actions at Cowpens, in the state of South Carolina, 
on the 17* of January last. 

March 1781 

It took nine years before Morgan actually received the medal. 

^ Morgan to Greene (Greene papers) cited in Chalmers Davidson, Piedmont 
Partisan, (Davidson CoUege, 1951). 





"No man better loved this world 
and no man more reluctantly 
quitted it." 

Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee 








• ^ 












































• IH 












Morgan recovered from his ailments siifficiently to take the field briefly 
assisting his friend the Marquis de Lafayette in a Virginia skirmish that 
eventually led to Yorktown. Even that proved too much for him, and he retired 
in July of 1781 and settled in at "Saratoga." The decade that followed saw 
Morgan's becoming one of the most distinguished men of the Shenandoah 
Valley. In 1782 Morgan and Nathaniel BurweU operated a miU in Mill town. 
Morgan managed the miU, while BurweU looked after a nearby store. 

Morgan was called to arms one last time to help put down the Whiskey 
Rebellion in Pennsylvania, an uprising of back country farmers incensed over a 
federal tax on distilled grounds. He served one term in the fifth Congress (1797- 
99) representing the FederaUst party, but one term was enough. Morgan enjoyed 
the marriages of his daughters, Nancy to Colonel Presley Neville, an aide to 
Lafayette, and Betsy to Major James Heard, who became a reckless spender. It is 
significant that Heard resembled the young Daniel Morgan and Neville the 
mature general. Morgan took great deUght as a doting grandfather. 

Nancy Neville gave birth to fifteen children and Betsy Heard to four 
children. Morgan often brought his grandchildren to "Saratoga" and entertained 
them with stories of his military career. "Saratoga" became a center of historic 
interest. (It is reported that General Robert E. Lee later spent some time at the 
house on his way to the Battle of Gettysburg.) However, a year before he retired 
from Congress, Morgan's lameness made it too difficult to look after "Saratoga." 
In the summer of 1800, Morgan needed constant medical attention, so he moved 
in with Betsy Heard's family at their home at 226 Amherst Stieet in Winchester. 


It was during those last two years in Winchester that the Rev. William 
HiU became Morgan's constant friend and confidant. Abigail Morgan had been 
one of the 50 charter members of the Old Stone Presbyterian Church in 
Winchester, and Morgan was baptized and became a member there in 1801. 

Callahan describes Morgan's faith statement in the following words: 

I believe in one God, the first and great cause of all 
goodness. 1 also believe in Jesus Christ, the rebirth 
of the world. 1 also believe in the Holy Ghost, the 


LEFT: Home of Morgan's 
daughter Betsy Heard on 
Amherst St. in Winchester, 
where he lived 1800-1802, 
and died July 6, 1802. 


comforter...! further believe that all must be saved 
through the merits of Christ.^^ 

This brief statement of faith indicates that Morgan stood in the traditional 
evangelical tradition, much different from the Deism of Jefferson, Paine and 
Franklin. Deism, then popular with the French Revolutionists, was to Morgan 
incompatible with the "tiue reUgion." Although Morgan embraced the politics 
of these revolutionary figures, he never embraced their religion. 

Daniel Morgan was a man of prayer. "People thought Old Morgan was 
never afraid," he told William Hill, relating his prayers before the battles of 
Quebec and Cowpens. At Quebec, in the long night while they waited through 
storm and darkness to storm the city, Morgan thought that nothing less than a 
miracle could save them from sure disaster. He stepped aside, and kneeUng at 
the side of ammunition of war, prayed most fervently that Almighty God would 
be his shield and defense. He continued in prayer as the word passed down the 
Une, and later fully believed that his safety was the intervention of God. At 
Cowpens, once again facing seemingly sure defeat, Morgan went into the 
woods, knelt by an old tiee stump, and poured out a prayer for his army, 
himself, and his country. 

In 1801, Morgan signed his final wiU and testament, which was probated 
in September of 1802.^^ As Morgan approached his end, his physician. Dr. 
Conrad, told him to settie his affairs. Morgan replied, "Doctor, if 1 could be the 
man 1 was when I was 21 years of age [1757], 1 would be willing to be stripped 
stark naked on the top of the Allegheny Mountains to run for my Life with the 

^^ Callahan, op.cit., p. 293. See also, Morgan to Miles Fisher, June 11, 1798, Historical 
Magazine, 1st Series, 2 (1868). Hill's Notes, p. 266. 

^ Graham, op.cit,, pp. 460-462. The wiU was probated on September 30, 1802, 
and left land to be sold for the benefit of his wife Abigail, "Saratoga" and other land to 
daughter Betsy, his lands in Kentucky to Betsy's four children, and his military lands in 
the Northwest Territory to his son-in-law Presley Neville. (Frederick County Wills, SC I, 
p. 435.) 


hounds of death at my heels."^^ 

The Rev. James Quinn visited Morgan on his death bed and shared the 
plan of salvation. Quinn's comment was, "How little can the honors and riches 
of the world do for poor man when death comes." Surrounded by his family 
and friends, Daniel Morgan quietly slipped to the next world on July 6, 1802. 
The Rev. WiUiam Hill preached a long and eloquent funeral oration. Among his 
words were these: 

He was the complete soldier. 1 think we may 
venture to assert, that he has not left another 
behind him to whom we are so much indebted 
for our independence and liberty. Whilst we sit 
under our own vine and fig tree, with none to 
make us afraid - whilst the liberty he had 
contributed so large to procure for us gilds our 
path through life, gladdens every scene and 
makes yon sun itself to shine with luster the 
name of MORGAN will be precious in our 
sights. Posterity itself shall know thy name, 
and knowing it, learn to imitate thy patriotism 
and bravery. Beloved Patiiot and Hero, we 
bid thee farewell. ^' 

It was fitting that Hill deUver Morgan's funeral oration. The Reverend 
William E. Hill (1769-1852) had become the first pastor of the Old Stone 
Presbyterian Church, organized on September 7, 1800. A meaningful 
coincidence was that Hill came to Winchester on January 1, 1800, around the 
same time that Morgan moved to Winchester. Hill served the church for 34 
years, and was buried in Mount Hebron Cemetery, near Morgan's second and 

^ Col. David Holmes, "Early History of Winchester," Annual Papers of 
Winchester, Virgiriia, Historical Society, Winchester, Va., 1931, 1, pp. 171-172. 

^' William Hill, manuscript in the library of the Virginia Historical Society, 
Richmond, Va. 


Sir ti 

The Old Stone Presbyterian Church, Winchester, Virginia. Morgan became a 
member in 1801, and was buried in the church cemetery. 


final grave site.^° 

In the funeral procession were seven members of the original rifle 
company which Morgan had formed and marched to Boston in 1775. They 
carried their war-worn rifles, and after the body had been lowered into the 
grave, they stood over it and fired a farewell which resounded across the valley. 
Over the grave was placed a stone slab, and on it was an inscription written by 
General Presley Neville: 

Major General Daniel Morgan 

Departed this life 

On July 6, 1802 

In the 67* year of his age 

Patriotism and Valor 

Were the prominent features of his character 

And the Honorable services he Rendered to His Country 

During the Revolutionary War 

Crowned him with Glory 

And will remain in the hearts of his countrymen 

A Perpetual Monument to His Memory ^^ 

^° Robert Lee Woodworth, A History of Winchester Presbytery, 1947. 
^^ See replica of Memorial Slab in photo taken in 2000. 




"The welfare of the country seemed 
to absorb his soul." 

"We may venture to assert, that he 
has not left another behind him to 
whom we are so much indebted for 
our Independence and Liberty." 

The Reverend WiUiam Hill 

At the end of the Civil War in 1865, rumors went around Winchester that 
the victorious Yankees intended to dig up the remains of Morgan, who was born 
in the North, and move them to Pennsylvania. Colonel William R. Denny of 
Winchester led prominent local citizens to the Old Stone Presbyterian Church 
cemetery, and dug up the remains of Morgan. Only the bones of the old soldier 
remained. They were re-interred in the Mount Hebron Cemetery in Winchester, 
where they remain today. 

In July 1951, citizens from Spartanburg, South Carolina, appeared at the 
Mount Hebron Cemetery in an attempt to move Morgan's remains to 
Spartanburg. But when the delegation, armed with picks and shovels, appeared 
at the cemetery, the caretaker called the police. A crowd of Winchester 
"patriots" gathered at the cemetery and adamantly opposed the South 

Life magazine described the incident in an article entitled, "Who Gets the 
General's Body?"''^ Even after his demise, Daniel Morgan could not rest at peace, 
and remained the center of controversy. 


The year 2002 marks the bicentennial of General Daniel Morgan's death. 
His biographer James Graham wrote of Morgan, 

He was remarkable through life for his candor, 
whether the occasion for the exercise of this quality 
was agreeable or not to his hearers. He was never 
known to sacrifice truth to conventionality. He 
abhorred the character of a hypocrite or dissembler, 
and never took any pains to conceal his contempt 
for the dishonest, the tieacherous, the cowardly.^^ 

^^ Life, September 3, 1951, pp. 53-54 
^' Graham, op. cit, p. 454 


Morgan's grave marker with 
inscription written by his son- 
in-law General Presley Neville 
at the Mount Hebron Cemetery. 

Monument erected by the 
Winchester/Frederick County 
Historical Society at Mount 
Hebron Cemetery in 1952. 



Higginbotham says, "It is not generally known that Morgan also had a 
son. Born in the mid-1780's, Willoughby Morgan was illegitimate, and his 
mother's identity remains a mystery. His birth so embarrassed Morgan that he 
never referred to Willoughby in his surviving letters or his will."^ Apparently 
the boy resembled his father physically and emulated him in compiling a 
brilliant combat record in the War of 1812. Higginbotham says that " a very 
early age Willoughby was sent to South Carolina, where he grew up and studied 
law. By 1811 he lived in Winchester, and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel in 
the army, and after serving at western posts in Indiana and Wisconsin, he died 
in 1832."'' 

Every family has its "black sheep and kissing cousins." The parentage of 
Willoughby was a well-kept secret and Morgan guarded that secret well. 

Granted this impropriety, Morgan remains a major figure in American 
history. Oliver Wendall Holmes once wrote, "A great man represents a strategic 
point in the campaign of history and part of his greatness consists in being 
there." At those crucial moments at Quebec, Saratoga, and Cowpens, Morgan's 
presence was felt. 

Clint Schemmer, writing in the Fredericksburg, Virginia, Free Lance Star, 
laments the fact that Morgan has received so little mention outside of 
Winchester, Virginia. But he notes there is one place where Morgan has received 
his reward. In the halls of the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond, Morgan's 
portrait hangs with other Virginia heroes of the Revolution- Washington, 
Jefferson, Madison-and Lafayette. Overhead the display reads "The World 

^ Higginbotham, op.cit., p. 183. 

'^ Ibid. In the Draper manuscripts at the State Historical Society of the University 
of Wisconsin (216-219), one of Morgan's granddaughters, Mrs. Winifred Kouns, recalls 
that, "Colonel Willoughby Morgan was a natural son of General Daniel Morgan and was 
born in Winchester in 1785 [sic] He was reared by a foster mother in South Carolina at 
his father's expense. 


Turned Upside Down."^^ 

Daniel Morgan was a hero of the Revolution. He had personal 
relationships witii many of its major personalities: Washington, Gates, Greene, 
Arnold, Lafayette, and Jefferson. James Graham well said, "It is a little 
mysterious that there is no credit given him for those exploits in the American 
history of the Revolution, while in some of the British accounts, his name is 
mentioned with great honour and applause. I am still in hopes tliat this business 
will be enquired into by some future historian, and justice done to his memory. "^^ I 
trust that as we commemorate the 200* year since his death, justice is now done 
to his memory. Morgan never lived in Morganton, North Carolina, but probably 
marched through this area on his way to Guilford Court House in late January 
1781. But his leadership at Cowpens so influenced McDowell and Erwin, that 
they gave this town his name. 

Standing by his grave in Mount Hebron Cemetery, Winchester, Virginia, 
on a gray October afternoon, almost 200 years since his death, 1 felt a kinship 
with this patiiot and great American. The words of the hymn filled my soul: 

O beautiful for patriot dream 

That sees beyond the years 

Thine alabaster cities gleam 

Undimmed by human tears 

America, America 

God shed his grace on thee. 

And crowned thy good with brotherhood 

From sea to shining sea. 

Daniel, this patiiot whose dreams of freedom saw beyond the years, is 
the man for whom Morganton is named. Soon after the Revolution ended, 
Morgan was given a blank form on which to register information as to the extent 

^ Clint Schemmer, "Daniel Morgan: Patriot with an Attitude," Fredericksburg, 
Va. Free Lance Star, August 4, 2000. 

'^ James Graham, in a manuscript at the Virginia Historical Society, Richmond, 




^-«'*^~ ^ " 

Shown above are the monument to Daniel Morgan erected by Congress in the 
main square of Spartanburg, South Carolina , with the inscription, "General 
Daniel Morgan, the hero of Cowpens, who on the field was victorious in the 
great cause of American independence"; the road marker erected by the state 
of Virginia outside Winchester, Virginia; and the official flag of Captain 
Morgan's XI th Rifle Corps, 1776. 


of his services. He really wrote his own epitaph, the root metaphor of his Ufe. 
Morgan wrote, "Fought everyivJiere; surrendered nowJiere. " We shaU not see the 
likes of this patriot any time soon. 



James and Eleanor Morgan 
(came from Wales, 1720) 


b. 1736 

(Durham, Bucks County, Pa., or Hunterdon County, N.J.) 

m. Abigail Curry (1743-1816) 

March 30, 1773 

d. July 6, 1802 

(Winchester, Va.) 

Nancy (1763-1831) 

m. Presley Neville (1755-1818) 

October 15, 1782 

Betsy (1769-?) 

m. James Heard (1767-1827) 

October 16, 1786 

15 children, including 

Major LaFayette Morgan Neville b. 1783 

Frederick Neville, b. 1801 

Five children, including 
Daniel Morgan Heard 
Morgan Augustus Heard 
Matilda Heard 
Nancy Heard 

Illegitimate son by unknown mother 
Willoughby (1780-1831) 



1775 Captain, 11* Virginia Regiment age 39 

1776 Colonel, Continental Army age 40 
1780 Brigadier General, Continental Army age 44 



Three biographies of Morgan still in print: 

Callahan, North, Daniel Morgan: Ranger oftJie Revolution. New York, Holt, 
Rinehart, and Winston, 1961. 

Graham, James, Life of General Daniel Morgan oftJie Virginia Line of the Army of the 
United States. First edition pubUshed in 1856. Reprinted by Zebrowski Historical 
Services PubUshrng Co., Bloomingburg, NY, 1993. 

Higginbotham, Don, Daniel Morgan: Revolutionary Rifleman. Chapel Hill: 
University of North Carolina Press, 1961. 

Related reading: 

Babits, Lawrence E., A Devil of a Wliipping: The Battle ofCowpens. Chapel Hill, 
University of North Carolina Press, 1998. 

Buchanan, John, 77ie Road to Guilford Court House: The American Revolution in the 
Carolinas. New York: John Wiley, 1997. 

Ketchum, Richard M., Saratoga: Turning Point of America's Revolutionary War. 
New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1997. 

Phifer, Edward W., Jr., Burke: The History of a North Carolina County, 1777-1920. 
Morganton, NC, 1982. 

Roberts, Kenneth, Tlie Battle ofCowpens: The Great Morale Builder. New York: 
Doubleday, 1958. 



(Available at the Morganton/ Burke County Public Library) 

Bryant, Bernice, Dan Morgan: Wilderness Boy. New York: Bobbs Merrill, 1952, 

Tucker, Ernest E., Dan Morgan, Rifleman. Chicago: Wheeler Publishing Company, 


Cover art: Daniel Morgan, ca. 1794, by Charles Willson Peale. Courtesy of 
Independence National Park, Philadelphia. 

All photographs by the author. 


Reconsidered Hero 

The year 2002 marks the Bicentennial 
year of the death of General Daniel Morgan, 
Patriot of the Revolutionary War. This 
monograph was written to remember the 
often neglected role Morgan played in 
strategic battles of the War of Independence, 
and as a tribute to the Burke Militia who 
fought with Morgan at the Batde of Cowpens. 

"As Mayor of the City of Morganton, I commend this book to all 
our citizens who wish to know more about the man for whom our 
city is named. As Americans we owe a debt of gratitude to patriots 
such as Morgan whose loyalty and courage gave us our independence." 

- Mayor Mel Cohen - 

"Daniel Morgan is hardly known as a Revolutionary hero today, 
but contemporaries considered his experience and talents as 

- Dr. Lawrence E. Babits, Author of A Devil of a Whipping. 






Morgan, a student of the life of Daniel Morgan, 
aiitiior of ten books, holds a doctorate in church 
iry, and is an active member of the Burke County 
•jBa ^ I Society, and Historic Burke Foundation.